Image of Student Abstracts: Research Assistants in Various STEM Fields

Student Abstracts: Research Assistants in Various STEM Fields


Rechin Wang '23
Major: Economics 
Minor: Asian Studies

RA In Real Life

I want to share my summer experience as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I investigated the effect of financial scarcity on brain capacity and the results revealed that people are smarter and happier when they possess more money. Working with a group of cool Ph.D. students is fun but also challenging! If you are interested in getting into a Ph.D. program or pursuing a career as an RA, please come and hear about my story of how to find a RA job, my work routine, and my takeaways. Surprisingly, I decide NOT to do a Ph.D., and I will tell you why.


Sarah Forster '23
Major: Biology 
Latine Studies: Psychology

The Impact of Concussion: Scientific Research in a Movement Neuroscience Laboratory

My summer internship took place at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Movement Neuroscience laboratory. I was tasked with helping a PhD student, Samuel Zeff, with data collections for his dissertation project. I read and discussed scientific literature that focused on the effect of concussion and sub-concussive impacts. Particularly, the effects they have on visual and brain processing and head control. I also got first hand experience collecting data from human subjects; the UMASS men's hockey team. My presentation will discuss how I was able to secure this opportunity, what it entailed, what I learned, and how I will continue this research throughout the rest of my senior year.


Leah Drabek '23
Major: Psychology and Education

The Role of IL-4 in Social Development in Mice

Lynk funding provided me the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant in the Schwartzer Lab of Mount Holyoke College. This summer, under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Jared Schwartzer, I studied the role of IL-4 in social development in mice. IL-4 is a cytokine responsible for allergies and asthma, and has been implicated as a maternal factor important for brain development. Using a mouse model of maternal allergic asthma (MAA), we investigated the role of IL-4 during pregnancy on mouse social behavior development. This experience gave me an inside view into what neuroscience research is all about, enhanced my scientific knowledge and skills, strengthened my passion and appreciation for research, and will influence my future career path. I look forward to sharing it with you!

Valeria Serna-Solis '23
Major: Biology major 
Minor: Latine Studies

3D Analysis of Male Ratfish Copulatory Structures in the Brennan Lab

This summer, I, along with two other research students, Jennifer Garcia-Israel and Catherine Paredes, studied different copulatory structures in the Brennan Lab at MHC. The main study subject was Hydrolagus colliei, commonly known as ratfish from the Chimaeridae family. Males have claspers, but also a phalloid organ on the head and a pair of pelvic claspers all of which are used during copulation. The primary questions we’re trying to answer are: Is there variation in the morphology of each of these parts? Are they correlated with one another? Does their morphology correlate with body size or sexual maturity? This summer, we dissected the ratfish, collected data, and used a 3D scanner (EXScanPro) and scAnt, an open-source platform for creating 3D of small objects (Plum and Labonte 2021), and Zephyr for 3D reconstruction. The biggest challenge we faced was troubleshooting the scAnt software using Python.